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Not a great week, but let’s not get carried away with the pessimism eh?

09:19 05 September 2015

Cameron Jerome misses a great chance at Southampton
. Picture: Paul Chesterton

Cameron Jerome misses a great chance at Southampton . Picture: Paul Chesterton

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

Well that was a week to forget. At Southampton a performance that was already sloppy and lacking in energy even before Steven Whittaker’s five minutes of madness, and further signs of defensive frailty thereafter, ensured that all the pre-game optimism amongst the Yellow Army congealed into that horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach that we’ve rarely experienced in Alex Neil’s tenure.

While Whittaker will inevitably be the whipping boy for Sunday’s loss the reality is that City barely looked at the races before his departure, with John Ruddy having to recapture his international call-up form to keep the Canaries on level terms and Cameron Jerome inexplicably getting himself in a tangle with the Southampton goal gaping in front of him.

It was a strangely subdued performance and, unsurprisingly, Alex Neil demonstrated ruthless honesty in his post-match assessment but it’s vital to keep a sense of perspective. Southampton are a good side and playing for over 60 minutes with 10 men, several of whom were significantly under par, was always likely to end badly. Just as it was important not to get too carried away after the win at Sunderland, so it is necessary to appreciate that City’s season wasn’t defined by events at St Mary’s.

Nevertheless, it was a salutary reminder of two things. The first of these is that this City side are going to have off days, and secondly that when they occur in such a tough league they are likely to be ruthlessly punished.

What must change though is the current wastefulness in front of goal and the tendency of defending players (including midfielders) to watch the ball rather than the man they are marking. We have seen it cost goals in each of the four league games so far and Neil will be determined to stamp it out before the visit of Bournemouth.

And so to the transfer window. On a positive front the arrival of Dieumerci Mbokani offers an exciting and unpredictable new element to City’s attacking threat, while Matt Jarvis, if he can rediscover the form that made him an England player, is the type of creative left winger that City have missed since the departure of Anthony Pilkington.

However, there was inevitably concern amongst fans at the failure to secure another centre back option following the departure of Carlos Cuellar, Ignasi Miquel and Michael Turner. This is the area where City look thin in terms of cover, although it’s worth noting that many Liverpool fans see centre back as Andre Wisdom’s best position.

But of course, the biggest issue on deadline day itself, and the cause of a massive meltdown on social media, was the late and unexpected sale of last year’s Player of the Season, Bradley Johnson.

Johnson has become an iconic figure at the club and the reaction is understandable to a point, but realistically, with Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans, Johnny Howson and Alex Tettey apparently ahead of him in the pecking order for central midfield and Robbie Brady and Jarvis offering genuine wide left options a dispassionate view would be that it represented a good deal for both club and player.

I suspect that had the incomings been more numerous or had City won at Southampton the reaction wouldn’t have been quite so strong, but there is no doubt that the overriding mood among fans on Wednesday morning was one of disappointment and apprehension.

Perhaps the international break is, for once, coming at a good time, allowing time for a sense or perspective to develop. The world hasn’t ended and the squad has been enhanced in terms of striking and wing options while shedding some fringe players. Feelings may be running high, but let’s wait and see how things turn out before judging too harshly.

14 comments

  • Overall I thought this a good article although I would point out that our defensive failings - failure to concentrate, mark up and general ball-watching - has been a feature of our central defence not recently but for two seasons. The situation is made worse because we lack pace and are easily turned by quick attackers. There has also been a recent tendency to see defenders turning their backs on a player striking or about to strike the ball. If you can't see the ball you can't defend it. Simple. No excuse for that. The failings in this area and lack of obvious back-ups remains and it is hard to understand why the club has not addressed this. They have had plenty of time to see and act. All I can hope is that perhaps the likes of Wisdom and Toffolo will prove to be more than adequate in central defence. My feeling is that at least one of them would be worth a try but I doubt it will happen until or unless we get injuries and suspensions.

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    malaga flier

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • Good piece. pretty much sums up the chats I've been having. That Southampton game was pretty dire though Southampton themselves were so mediocre it made it even more frustrating, and given the waves of euphoria we've all ridden on in recent times that was pretty sobering. Thing is, I wouldn't mind if we fought hard and lost not rolled over with a whimper. It's how we went out last time and that was bleak, it was a reminder of what Norwich do all too often and I felt for the fans who made it to St mary's. But I guess that's football for you.

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    Go_Fleck_Urself

    Monday, September 7, 2015

  • "Crafty" not "Craft". Not to be confused with "Kraft" or "I can't believe it's not butter".

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Sunday, September 6, 2015

  • In the absence of any information coming through, we can put forward our own take on things. One hypothesis is that Alex is craft and ambitious. The transfer window has been a total and utter failure but the board and the bloke from Burnley are getting the blame not Alex. He may have some kind of release clause in his contract in the event of relegation. Having a poor squad means he will get credit for every point the team gets rather than castigated for every point they drop. Result? At the end of the season, he gets an offer from a club that does have ambition rather than pretends to, can walk from his contract with no financial restraint and carry on his career with reputation untarnished. It will also make good reading in his autobiography when he retires from being manager of Scotland. I wonder...........................

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    waclor

    Sunday, September 6, 2015

  • ... If Norwich do not wish to drop out of the prem for a third time in 10 years .. They need to learn from past mistakes.... Winning as many of the first half of the seasons fixtures is paramount to ease the pressure on the second half and also create a momentum to win more in the second half.. ... Past years has resulted in a list of excuses for not winning, and as anyone knows excuses win you absolutely NOTHING ... Grit and determination to relentlessly improve is paramount to stay in the prem and to possibly get into Europe in coming years... The longer Norwich can stay in the prem, the more money they will earn and therefore have the ability to buy more and better players to achieve more in years to come... Lack of ambition and determination is a recipe for failure .. .. So Norwich FC it is now up to you...

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    Lionel

    Sunday, September 6, 2015

  • Last season!

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    baguio

    Sunday, September 6, 2015

  • I agree totally with TK's post. And to add to it, BJ's energy and commitment whilst in the centre is infectious. His backbone is needed against the better teams. To say that he was toilet in the middle is ridiculous IMO. His goals flowed from that position and he played better this season than ever before. IF there were issues between him and Grabban then I know who most people think should have been sold, and especially when that huge offer came in for him. Grabban is now at least third choice for one position. BJ was competing for several. I can't help but think that this transfer is going to come back to haunt us big time! What happens if Brady gets injured or is suspended now for example. From what I have seen of Brady (admittedly being played out of position), he isn't all that! There is also no point putting balls into the box when the best header of the ball has left the club. Unfortunately, CJ has proven over the last 5 games that he can't head them home or even make contact with them!

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    baguio

    Sunday, September 6, 2015

  • TK,hope plan A as there appears to be no plan B,wisdom cant possibly play at CB because would mean dropping the main ball watcher...unless he waits until bassong gets a red card.....

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    dis dressed

    Sunday, September 6, 2015

  • Trying to submit comments to topics is a waste of time....it's a lottery to know which ones will get accepted.

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    Armchair fan

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

  • Sorry but I cannot buy that Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans, Johnny Howson and Alex Tettey should have been in front of Johnson for a place in the team. Mulumbu was a free agent from a traditional struggling WBA and certainly did not look overly impressive against WHU, Howson cannot tackle, lacks effort when the chips are down and only plays well once every five games or so. Yes Tettey on form is a good defensive midfielder but his shots on goal are woeful and how long before he is banned due to constant yellow cards. Strange how we played most of last season under AN with a narrow midfield and yet everybody seems to think wingers will now work for us, I doubt that will be the case against the stronger sides many of whom tend to play three central midfielders. Johnson at least offered 100% effort and for me that really counts when the chips are down but AN seems to prefer a tired right back at centre back whose head drops as soon as we concede a goal. Nothing we can do now apart from pray that Plan A works but it was woeful against Soton who until they met us were struggling to get their season under way.

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    TrevorKeith

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

  • It's obvious why he left people! He is a left mid, we don't play wide mids. We play wingers, and we're not going to change the shape for what is essentially a good champ player are we?! Jarvis offers width on both flanks, so the move makes total sense. He was told he wouldn't be a regular and was offered the chance to go based on his efforts last year for the club. It's not hard to work out, esp as he can only play in one position as he's not good enough for a central berth. Remember moaning about him playing there before because he was toilet?! Stop being so sentimental...The move makes sense for us and BJ. I'd rather have jarvis anyday! And so would you if you wiped the wembley winning tears away.

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    JimBob

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

  • I suspect Archant do know why Johnson left, but refuse to state publicly to maintain good relations with the club - which if true, is a cop out. I believe he was told to leave for reasons the club have decided not to make public. It will continue to make no sense until an effort is made. As Grabban said, the truth will come out in the end...

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    Darren Hoggett

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

  • This is a good summary of the state of play but what is disappointing is that the press have made no effort to get the manager's take on it. Isn't this what reporters are supposed to do? The club's silence is simply fueling the speculation.

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    Cyprus Canary

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

  • If we have a spare place in our squad of 25 then we can still sign free agent footballers now, as far as good defenders go Ron Vlaar, Emanuel Eboue, a czech player called Mazuch.. and Martial's brother are all available now, although some carrying injuries

    Report this comment

    jops

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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